January is a funny old time. All the planning and excitement of Christmas can leave you feeling as deflated as that last lonely balloon you forgot to take down.

It’s also a time for resolutions – why not make your first one a decision to spend more time on holiday this year?

That doesn’t have to be expensive, Spain Holiday have plenty of Budget Options available, all over the country, so even if you have overspent at Christmas, there should still be some room for a treat.  There’s always something going on here in Spain, and flights can be cheap if you look hard before you book. What’s on in January?  Let’s take a look…

New Year Blues

January in Spain should be a quiet affair after all the partying of Noche Buena, Noche Vieja and then after Santa has packed up and headed back home, the Three Kings come loaded down with more parcels and sweets for the kids of Spain.  Just the good ones of course! But if you still fancy a break away after all that tinsel and mayhem then have a look at events in Spain, particularly January.  Here is a 5 part guide to the best events and hottest spots – well, maybe not that hot! It might help you to make up your mind which would be the best destination. There are noisy events, re enactments, musical ones, an quiet exhibitions. Which would you like?

The Three kings throw sweets and gifts to all

Go South

If you start right at the beginning of January, then be quick off the mark and book up your place now at a holiday rental in Granada.

The historical city of Andalucía, framed beautifully by the dramatic snow capped  Sierra Nevada mountain range, is one of the first Spanish cities to get off it’s marks in the race of fiestas and festivals.

Sunshine and snow in Granada

What’s the occasion?

La Toma de Granada – literally the taking of Granada.  It’s a march into the city. Not like some of the anti austerity marches that have recently been taking place but a commemoration of when the Catholic Kings marched into the city of Granada as the Moors surrendered and left.

The date was 1492not just a good year for Columbus! – and Isabella and Ferdinandtook their places as they marched through the streets into Granada as the Moors were overthrown and sent to live in exile in the mountains of the Alpujarras – which is why all the houses there are Berber in style, flat roofs and Moorish style.  It’s also why you will see so many legs of Jamón hanging and drying in mountain bars. It was seen as a sign of loyalty to the Catholic kings if you hung one in your window – clearly a Moor would not!

Granada, a stunning city

What happens at the Festival?

Locals will dress up in elegant 15th century regalia and re enact the march, the younger – and clearly fitter – crew will race to climb the wall of the Torre de la Vela at the Alhambra Palace, with the aim of being the first to ring it’s bell.

The colourful procession will end at the Ayuntamiento, where the colours of  the Monarch’s flag will be raised to cheers and applause from the crowd. Afterwards drift away with the dressed up throng and head for the many bars around town to sample a cold beer and a slice of freshly carved Jamón…

Whilst in Granada…

Stay a few days in this friendly city and explore on foot.  Try out the famous free and delicious tapas, or do a little shopping or sightseeing. There’s lots to see!

  • The Alhambra Palace – better without the hordes of Summer visitors. The Palace glows a romantic pink under the rays of the setting Winter sun.
  • The Generalife Gardens – you can do both the Palace and gardens in the same day, but 2 is better.
  • The Moorish Quarter – they clearly didn’t all leave! Take mint tea and a sticky Almond pastry in a cosy Tetería, buy some of the colourful sequinned cushions and throws, or just get lost in the winding alleys accompanied by the heady scent of incense.
  • The Capilla Real – This is my personal favourite space in Granada. Go there to see the burial place of the Catholic King and Queen, and the anteroom where their real costumes and robes are on display – it’s all right next to the Cathedral, another spot to visit on your list. Afterwards have a warming coffee in the bar right opposite, it’s warm enough in the Winter sunshine to sit outside and watch the crowds pass by.
  • Go Ski! – Head up and  into the mountains – after all that you can head to the Sierra Nevada mountains and have a day on the slopes at the Ski Resort of Solynieve – Sun and snow!

The romantic Alhambra Palace

Don’t cry

And remember, when you leave, don’t be like the Moorish King of Granada Boabdil who cried as he looked back at his beloved city, reprimanded by his mother who snapped at him not to ´Cry like a woman for what he could not defend like a man.’  That point on the high road outside the city is known as El Suspiro del Moro – the Moor’s Sigh.

He knew he could never return – you, on the other hand, will definitely be back!

Carol Byrne
Posted by Carol Byrne
Originally from Dublin, Carol has also lived in London and Wales before settling in Spain with her husband and family in 2006. She and her family run a rural retreat high in the Alpujarras mountains of Granada, which you can find here as property number 17043. She blogs about traditional village life, sparked by a passion for the culture and history of Spain, and teaches English locally..